But a speaker?
It never crossed my mind.
And yet, last week, I found myself standing on a stage at a church in the Chicago-land area having the time of my life. I did the same thing the week before... and will do it again next week... and the week after that... And I just cannot believe that I get to do this thing that I love that I never saw coming at all.
God is funny like that... planning and dreaming for the stuff we will do and smiling when it comes as a complete surprise to His children. It keeps us on our toes some, I think. At least, it does for me.
And, as if it was not amazing enough that I get to do this thing, sometimes I hear back from the people I speak to from that stage. I did today. I opened my email box and found a story about a family and the part that my Sticks program might play in the life they are living together. It made me smile and feel affirmed but honestly, it made me feel something more.
That kind email made me feel eager.
I want to do more.
Because here is what I know from living life with my family and standing on those stages to speak... I know that we are all just doing what we can. And sometimes, we find ourselves so overwhelmed that even if we could scrape up the energy to try something new in our homes, we may not then find the energy to see it through. We get up every day and try to do what we know to do and to love on our kids and to get it all done and then at the end of the day, we fall into bed exhausted and get up again and do it again and are exhausted again and so on and so on and...
It is an awful lot.
And then we add to that the things we must do that we never saw coming and are unprepared to manage because who ever trains you to be a mom? We have kids who struggle, who are sad, who are angry. We have kids with sensory issues, autism, learning disabilities. We have kids who are shy, who are mean, who are lost. And somehow we just have to figure it out? And still get dinner on the table and clean the floors and remember our friends and find time to shower?
Yep, some days it's just too much. A lot of days, it is too much. And we find ourselves living in survival mode which doesn't leave much time to connect to others, to save our own sanity, to reach out for help. And every, single time I stand in front of an audience, I think of these very things. That we are doing a big work, a hard thing, and we are in it together. And I cannot believe I get to offer a bit of encouragement to a group of parents who, like me, know what it is like to feel like you are barely getting by. And I cannot believe I get to see a little peek into what God can do when we take the chance to be real together. Because when we set down our guard and tell the truth, often we have created just enough space for something amazing to occur.
We weren't meant to do this alone... He wants us to be in it together.
Last week, after speaking on Sticks, I was taking questions from the audience. Imagine my surprise when I was asked a couple of times about the role of video games in our home? I don't talk about gaming in my presentation at all. But, isn't it just like God to know that something that has been on my heart, something I have wrestled with here on the blog with you, is also something another momma needs to think about, too? And as I briefly addressed the subject (Aren't you surprised I could do so briefly?) I was reminded again how much we need one another.
How easy that is to forget...
Today, I want us to remember. I want us to remember how important it feels to have someone tell us that they have struggled with the same issue that is plaguing us today. I want us to remember how powerful it is when we take a risk and allow for some transparency and then someone says that they understand. I want all of us to recall how calming it is when someone tells us they are sorry for our pain, that they want to offer help, that they have no words but want to come alongside.
I want us all to remember... and then act.
Because parenting is hard. And we need to offer to one another fewer judgmental glances and far more words of grace. We need to reach out today and call a friend or send a text and sincerely ask what we can do. And that friend who seems to have it all together? Don't be distracted by that image. We all live in a place where some days are good and others are rough and we know what to do or cannot figure it out and all of us, even you and even me, need to know that we are not walking alone.
You have a part to play, you see. And I do too.
And when I stand on that stage and look out, I see it. I see the look in your eye, like the look in my own, that asks a million questions and wants to talk it through. We were not meant to just figure it out. We were meant to reach out and connect and process this work. In doing so, we will find that this big work doesn't have to be so lonely. This big work is meant to do in community with others... and we are better this way. Better together than we ever were alone.
Yep, I feel eager.
Eager to do more, eager for us all to do more. Eager to help. Eager to write. Eager to speak and to connect and to empower and encourage. And I am not sure where God is going next but I sure love where I have been.
So, I have two book proposals to polish and work to do and the desire to reach out is burning in me. Need a speaker? Know a publisher, an editor, an agent? I am ready for whatever is next.
So, let's find something we can do. Seriously. Who do you need to reach out to today? What note do you need to write, what person needs see your smile, who can you support in the midst of a trial? Let's not pull so tightly in that we forget how important we can be to others. Let's not just read a blog and go back to cleaning or diapering or doing whatever we were doing before. Instead, let's open ourselves up to whatever is coming, whatever we need to do.
What does that look like for you?
Blessings on your day.